Thursday, November 21

Fall 2019 Day 32

Winding down!  Today we started with an olive producer that has won gold medals all over the world for the quality of their olive oil. It’s very unique and delicious!  We will be carrying bottles back with us from Sicily all the way to Charlevoix so we can share a part of our journey with all of our customers!  We are really excited because it’s really great stuff and he is a wonderful man!!!  His groves and estate are gorgeous and we had a lot of fun!  After that we went and explored the town of Agrigento. It’s a beautiful southern Sicilian town that overlooks the Valley of the Temples. It even has tons of Greek ruins buried underneath it that you can see in various spots. Unfortunately, because it’s offseason, we couldn’t get in to any of the places that have access to the ruins to see more, but oh well!  We saw the biggest and the best!  We walked around town, it’s a town like so many others in Europe and the world for that matter. Everyone wants to live in the big cities where they see an easier path at a future so these smaller towns are having trouble surviving. There were tons of property for sale all over town and a lot of it looks a bit run down, like it hasn’t been occupied for a while. Have you seen the towns in Italy offering 1 euro properties?  I can see that happening more and more. It’s a shame because it’s still possible to carve out a slice out of these towns to make a living and a difference and keep these ancient communities alive. We went to a place just like I’m saying. A bakery that is run by a father and his two younger sons. They work hard and have a gorgeous little shop. They make amazing stuff, sell gelato and even pipe and dip you cannolis to order. That was amazing!!!!  We left and went back to our villa and enjoyed our last night in Southern Sicily.  Our friends are leaving us today and we are very sad. We have had so much fun!  It’s been amazing. They have been amazing guides on our Sicilian adventure, and amazing playmates!  It’s been full of hysterical stories and memorable times that Emily and I will cherish. We don’t get to spend a lot of time with friends, mostly because we are so darn busy and most people have a hard time being friends on our terms. Which is, we don’t see you most of the year and then once it gets cold and nobody wants to leave their house, HERE WE ARE! LOL. Having Michael, Melissa and their adorable daughter Carmela with us has been so great for us. It really has filled a void that we don’t realize is there most of the time until you have these experiences and then you remember, oh yeah, friends!!  We kinda like those!  LOL We make a lot of sacrifices!  We don’t see our families enough, we don’t see our friends hardly at all, we are lucky we have each other, but it’s nice to have more. Especially because we work so hard. I know it seems very glamorous to be in Europe for 5 weeks and believe me, it’s amazing!  But Emily and I work hard all year!  We stay open through the winters and try as best as we can to give our community something that they will appreciate and that they need. We are always there, we work our business, we have high expectations and we try to only hire people who can meet those expectations, because our business is our life!  We are trying to take others on our experiences as a way to make the off season shorter for us and for everyone who has to deal with it. We are very lucky!  But, being able to have friends to share it with is an extra special thing to us!  So, basically, thanks Michael and Melissa for giving us an experience we will never forget!  It was really special!  We are going to spend the next two days back in Catania with no car and limited access to public transportation, so really, we won’t have much the next 2 days but we are looking forward to the wind down of things. Like I said, yes, we work hard, but we love it!  When you love your job it’s almost like not working at all!!  We can’t wait to get back and see everyone and hope you are all ready for the new things we are gonna be trying and playing with when we get back!  Thanks for reading one of the last blogs of the trip. I think there will be 3 maybe 4 more entries but it makes me sad because I really love doing it!  Anyway, keep reading and enjoying and we love you all!!

Fall 2019 Day 31

Maybe the most impressive day yet!!!  We woke up and drove the 30-45 minutes to Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples. It’s a whole area of Greek Temples built between 480 and 450 BCE. We had a reservation for lunch at the Hotel Villa Athena which is a gorgeous hotel with a beautiful restaurant that allows you private entrance to the Temples and free parking. A great way to get close and eat well!  We ate with an amazing view of the Temple of Concordia. The most complete of the 5 temples in the valley. After lunch we walked through our private gate and headed to the most eastern temple, the temple of Juno. All of the temples were given names based on what they thought they were called, but nobody actually knows the real names of them. We walked around it and it’s amazing to think of how long they have been standing right there through all the wars, the volcanoes, the earthquakes and just how much history these temples have watched go by. The sun was setting and we had the perfect light to view the temples in all their splendor!  We walked down to the Temple of Concordia. It’s so well preserved because it was turned into a Christian church. Sadly that’s the only way these amazing pieces of history survive. I think you can tell by the pictures these temples are amazing, and to think what they would’ve looked like 2500 years ago!  There isn’t marble on Sicily so they used Sandstone, a stone that weathers easily so they covered it with plaster to protect it from the salty air from the sea and then painted it all sorts of gorgeous colors!  After the Temple of Concordia we walked to the Temple of Hercules. It’s less complete than the others but the pile of tumbled columns laying all around sure is amazing to look at. There is one column that I made sure to take some good pictures of, that’s kind of brick looking that’s the only one that’s been standing as is for 2500 years. Imagine the people coming here and finding that one pillar sticking out and thinking about what they may find if they dig down. After that we went to the Temple of Olympian Zeus. This was the biggest of the temples, by far, and unfortunately the one in the worst shape. It was so big that just the front of the Temple was so huge that each of the other temples, of turned up in end would have fit inside. It was to commemorate the Sicilians finally defeating the Carthaginians and securing their island. It had 38 giant statues called Telamon. I have a few pictures of ones laying on the ground in pieces. Imagine those huge statues starting 40 feet up and then holding the roof up as columns that looked like giants holding everything upright. It was sadly hard to imagine the scale of this monster sized temple, but, in some ways, it was the one that interested me the most. It was SO big they had to build it differently than all the other Greek Temples in the world. We left there and though about taking the half mile walk to the 5th temple but it was getting dark, and it’s in the worst shape of all of them so we decided to walk back and look at the others with the evening lights lighting them up. What an amazing experience!  We talked at length about how lucky we are to see these sights that few people even know exist, much less will ever get a chance to see. It’s so invigorating to see new things, especially new things that blow your mind!!  Don’t ever be afraid to get out of your comfort zone!  That’s when all the truly memorable things happen!  We walked back to our car and drove to meet our friends family who lives a few towns over from Agrigento in a city called Grotte.  They cooked us a HUGE feast!  The food just kept coming and coming and it was all delicious!  They spoke very little English and all of us except Michael, whose family it is, speak very little Italian, but we still had such a lovely evening. There is just a warmth to Sicilian people that will surprise you!  All we think about is the Mafia and The Godfather. But, really, all we have experienced is warmth, kindness and generosity everywhere we have gone!  Not just Sicily!  Sicily is a unique, complicated, fast moving and ancient culture shaped by the many many many invaders who have recognized the strategic importance of this island. It’s been an intoxicating experience to be here for this week. One that I can’t recommend any higher to everyone!  You may want to stay away from renting a car, that’s all! LOL. Enjoy all these pictures and stories because today is one of those days that makes us want to scream from the rooftops, TRAVEL AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!!!!!!  It’ll change your life in more ways than you can ever imagine!!!  Thanks for reading. We love you all and miss you and can’t wait to be home to talk all about our adventures!  We miss our puppy and can’t wait to see him too!!!